Better is Possible.
Mission and History
FamilyMeans strengthens communities by helping individuals and families* through challenges in all life stages.
FamilyMeans envisions vibrant and resilient communities where everyone lives to their fullest potential.
*Definition of Family
A family consists of people, whether living together or apart, related by blood, marriage, adoption, or the commitment to care for or about one another.
In June of 1962 a committee was established by the St. Croix Area United Way with the intent to survey Stillwater and the surrounding area for a need for family services. It was found that there was a strong need for counseling services in three main areas; marital problems, child guidance, and financial planning.
On July 1st, 1963, Family Service of St. Croix Area is established. Dawson Bradshaw is named first executive director. The first year, 125 families requested services. From then on the need for services continues to grow.
Twelve years after opening its doors, Family Service of St. Croix Area is serving over 300 families and outgrowing the budget and funding provided by the St. Croix Area United Way. Individuals and families continued to seek support for marital disharmony, child development, and financial guidance. A year later, James Dinzeo became the second executive director.
The agency became independent of Family Service of St. Paul. Sandra Schearer was appointed the third executive director. Respite care programming is added to the agency’s outreach.
1988 – 1992
The growth of Family Service of St. Croix Area leads to the opening of offices in Woodbury, Minnesota and Hudson, Wisconsin. These offices open in an effort to make services more accessible. Youth Programs begins work in the village of Landfall. The Grace Stoltze Award is established for meritorious volunteer contributions to FamilyMeans. In addition, our name was changed from Family Service of St. Croix Area to Family Service St. Croix.
Arba-Della Beck is hired as the agency’s fourth leader and named president. In an effort to become more relatable and differentiated, Family Service St. Croix changed names again to FamilyMeans. Awareness continued to grow. We were now providing mental health counselors in a number of Stillwater area schools.
Imagine…The Campaign for FamilyMeans is successful and results in the new construction of a headquarters in Stillwater.
A second Youth Program initiative begins at Cimarron, Lake Elmo, followed by a youth center built in 2015. The Consumer Credit Counseling Services (now Financial Solutions) institutes its Debt Management Program.
The Center for Grief, Loss, and Transition in St. Paul, Minnesota merges with FamilyMeans. This site on Grand Avenue provides specialized counseling in the areas of complicated grief, loss, and trauma.
FamilyMeans celebrates a half-century and is named by the StarTribune as one of the metro’s best employers.
June 2018 marks the agency’s 55th year of operation. We continue to strive to support the community by providing support services that help to face life’s challenges.
In 2018-2019, the board worked on a new strategic plan, including succession planning for agency President, Arba-Della Beck. New logos and program colors were unveiled, along with a newly designed website. These contributed to a renewed marketing effort, with increased focus on digital materials.The agency earned renewal by the Council for Accreditation (COA), Charities Review Council, and a new credential as a Points of Light Service Enterprise organization. This latest accolade places FamilyMeans in the top 11% nationally for excellence in volunteer management.
During this time, programs also earned acclaim. A member of the Financial Solutions team, Eli Snyder, was named National Counselor of the Year by National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).Youth from the Cimarron Teen program received the Cultural Jambalaya Award for their podcast series titled Carnation. Youth Development pilots a new post-secondary pathways planning program called Ready To Be. Caregiving & Aging launched a new initiative in Virtual Reality Dementia experience, in addition to newly-created memory cafes.
2020 to Today
In January 2020, Arba-Della Beck announces her upcoming retirement, planned for June 2020. In May, after an extensive search, the board promotes James (Jim) Kroening as the agency’s 5th President. Jim has served in multiple roles since his hire in 1992, most recently as Director of Operations & Financial Solutions.
As the community faces the COVID-19 pandemic, updates to program delivery are made to comply with public health directives. This includes tele-medicine for mental health, online or phone financial counseling, caregiver coaching, and youth development services. FamilyMeans staff and board continue to support the community by being innovative in our programming and providing services in new ways to keep staff, volunteers, and clients safe.